Ensuring the physical and psychological safety of doctors in their workplaces is imperative to provide the best care possible to patients. To this end, Doctors of BC has taken significant action to improve workplace safety through the Memorandum of Agreement on Physical/Psychological Safety, referred to as the Physician Health and Safety Agreement (the PHS Agreement). Renewed in the 2022 Physician Master Agreement, the PHS Agreement continues to provide physicians with the opportunity to be included in widespread systemic change to better support physical and psychological health and safety in the workplace.
A summary report has been developed that outlines the background and preliminary work underway as a result of the 2019 PHS Agreement. This important work created the foundation to support our work ahead, and led to elements that have been formalized through the 2022 PHS Agreement.
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Doctors of BC is acutely aware of physical and psychological safety concerns in the physician workplace. In the 2022 Health Authority Engagement Survey, 42% of members reported experiencing a physical or psychological safety incident (in the preceding 12 months). In addition, half of respondents continue to report being impacted by a physical/psychological safety incident.
New in the 2022 PHS Agreement are expanded supports to review issues, approve activities, and engage health authorities on physician health and safety. This includes:
The 2022 PHS Agreement also formalizes structures created through the 2019 Agreement to continue work on enhancing and improving physical and psychological safety in the workplace. Through these structures, the working groups and SWITCH BC aim to provide advice and recommendations, as well as engage on matters of importance to physician health and safety. Work includes reviewing policies and procedures on topics such as exposure management, contact tracing, incident reporting, violence prevention training, enabling feedback loops, and more.
(PPHSWG) - A joint provincial committee/working group between the Ministry of Health, health authorities, Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC), and Doctors of BC that serves as the engagement and consultation forum for health and safety issues at a provincial level. This group provides advice and recommendations to the Ministry of Health, Physician Medical Services Executive Committee (PMSEC), and the Regional Health and Safety Working Groups.
(RPHSWGs) - Established within each Health Authority and comprised of Doctors of BC physician representatives, Regional Advisors and Advocates, and staff from Health Authority Medical Affairs and the Occupational Health and Safety department. Each Regional Physician Health and Safety Working Group engages on matters of importance regarding regional physician health and safety to develop activities, projects, and initiatives that can be funded under the Agreement.
(PHSAG) - An internal group, comprised of Doctors of BC physician representatives and Doctors of BC staff, that aims to provide updates to and plan/prioritize ideas for the Physician Specific Issues Working Group and each Regional Working Group.
(CPHSOG) - The newest component to the 2022 Agreement, this group will support physicians working in the community to meet their obligations regarding occupational health and safety, psychological and physical health and safety, violence prevention, and to create and maintain safe work environments.
(PVPWG) - This group will shift focus to implementation and evaluation of violence prevention training for physicians
In addition to the work of the above structures, individual physicians can be supported by – and are encouraged to connect with – their local Regional Advisor and Advocate when they encounter issues of physical or psychological health and safety, or if they have been involved or impacted by a past event.
Several regional and provincial projects and activities have been completed with many currently underway that seek solutions to creating systemic change and that create opportunities for physicians to raise and provide input into health and safety issues and processes. Here are completed and current projects by Health Authority.
For further information specific to your region, please contact your Regional Advisor and Advocate.
Supporting BC physicians in their pursuit of workplace health and safety has become an increasingly important priority for Doctors of BC. Our work in this area includes our 2017 policy statement Promoting Psychological Safety for Physicians, our 2016 policy statement Preventing Violence in Healthcare, and local initiatives established via the Divisions of Family Practice and Medical Staff Associations.
For Doctors of BC resources on physician health and safety, please visit our Physician Health & Safety webpage.